Of the more than 12 million people taken from Africa during the slave trade, roughly 400,000 were shipped to North American ports. About 40 percent of those sailed into Charleston. Omar was among the last. Upon his arrival to Charleston, he was surely naked and chained. He carried only the Quran stored in his mind’s eye.
A man with the last name Johnson bought Omar. Omar didn’t include Johnson’s first
name or describe the plantation he owned in his later writings. But coastal South Carolina was notorious for its rice operations, where enslaved laborers often died young. Four years after disembarking in Charleston, Omar fled.
“I was afraid to stay with such a wicked little man who committed a lot of sins,” he wrote. “So, I escaped.” In the story, Reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes and Photojournalist Gavin McIntyre retrace Omar’s life and journey to his homeland. Through stunning imagery, both in words and in photographs, they bring Omar’s true identity to light.